Maya Angelou will deliver a message to young people

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 7:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 7:22 p.m.

Maya Angelou wishes we didn't have to have a Black History Month. She wishes we didn't have to have a Women's History Month.

To her, we should own our past all together.

"We should all just know our history," she says, "because it's our history."

The renowned author and poet will speak at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday night at 8. Ticket distribution for the free event will begin when doors open at 7 p.m.

Student groups Accent Speaker's Bureau, Black History Month and Women's History Month are sponsoring the event, which is open to the public. Organizers are asking guests to bring kid-friendly food items, like jars of peanut butter and jelly, for students at Idylwild Elementary as part of UF's Project Makeover.

Angelou said on Tuesday that she relishes the opportunity to speak to young people because it allows to her to see faces light up as she shares what she has learned in life.

"I love teaching," she said. "I used to think I was a writer who could teach. Now I know I'm a teacher who can write."

The famed writer of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" said she enjoys coming to Florida, noting that one of her favorite writers used to teach at UF.

She admires the late creative writing professor Harry Crews, a novelist who passed away last year in Gainesville. Crews, more than any other writer, reminds her of her friend and fellow writer James Baldwin.

"I never met (Crews), but I wrote to him," she said. "I wrote him a fan letter and I bought his books."

Angelou also offered some advice to young writers Tuesday.

"I would ask you to read." she said. "Read constantly. Go into a closed room and read aloud. Hear the language."

Contact Joey Flechas at 338-3166 or

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